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Circular Wonderings is an exploration of the role of digital, software and technology in the Circular Economy. Exploration is the key word here. I write regularly, reflecting on my current thoughts and research. Expect typos, incomplete thoughts, varied rambling topics and (hopefully) a journey towards clearer understanding and insight. Subscribe here to join my journey.

Inverse Conway's law

Conway's law is an adage stating that organisations design software which mirror their own structure. [1]

The point being that our human interactions affect, or even limit, the software that we create.

One of the most clear examples of this is often the website. "Organisations often produce web sites with a content and structure which mirrors the internal concerns of the organisation rather than the needs of the users of the site."[2]

Of course a website is just one example.

This raises some interesting questions in the context of a transition to circular economy approaches. Almost all our existing business software has been created by and for linear economy models. Does this therefore mean that software will limit options for circularity?

The inverse of Conway's law would be that the structure of the software affects the organisational itself.

An interesting example of this is the reflections of an engineer at Runnable [3] on how the software architecture they choose, over time, affected how they worked as a company.

I have personally seen how the features, functionality and terminology used in software can define how people work and communicate.

My conclusion is that software teams must work to be aware of this two way relationship. Our role is more than modelling the business and creating or implementing software to meet requirements. We have the power and, therefore, the responsibility to consider how our software will change people and businesses.

This also highlights the exciting possibilities of software that puts circular economy thinking at it's core.

 


[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conway%27s_law
[2]: https://experiencelab.typepad.com/files/usability-issues-in-website-design-1.pdf
[3]: https://runnable.com/blog/conway-s-law-in-reverse-how-app-architecture-influences-org-structure